A Social History of the Ise Shrines Divine Capital

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-02-09
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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The Ise shrine complex is among Japan's most enduring national symbols, and A Social History of the Ise Shrines: Divine Capital is the first book to trace the history of the shrine from its beginnings in the 7th century until the present day. Ise enshrines the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, an imperial ancestress and the most prominent among kami deities. It has played a central role in state building throughout Japanese history, and became the most popular pilgrims' attraction in the land from the 16th century onwards. In 2013, the Ise complex once again captured the nation's attention as it underwent its periodic rebuilding, performed once every twenty years.

Mark Teeuwen and John Breen demonstrate that the Ise shrines underwent drastic re-inventions as a result of on-going contestation between different groups of people in different historical periods. They focus on the actors behind these re-inventions, the nature of the economic, political and ideological measures they took, and the specific techniques they deployed to ensure that Ise survived one crisis after another in the course of its long history.

This book questions major assumptions about Ise, notably the idea that Ise has always been defined by its imperial connections, and that it has always been a site of Shinto. Written by leading authorities in the field of Shinto Studies, this is the essential study of the history of Japan's most significant sacred site.

Author Biography

Mark Teeuwen is Professor of Japanese Studies at Oslo University, Norway. He has published widely on the history of Japanese religious, with a special focus on Shinto. His books include A New History of Shinto (2010), co-authored by John Breen, and Buddhism and Nativism: Framing Identity Discourse in Buddhist Environments (2013), co-edited by Henk Blezer.

John Breen is Professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Japan, and editor of Japan Review. He has published widely on the imperial institution and issues of religion and stage in modern Japan. His books include A New History of Shinto (2010), co-authored by Mark Teeuwen, and Shinto monogatari: Ise no kindaishi (2015).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ise agents and interventions
1. Ancient Ise: Divine wrath and court politics
2. Classical Ise: Hosophobia codified
3. Amaterasu's escape from Ise
4. Ise in the Kamakura period: Lands and secrets
5. Ise in the Muromachi period: War and pilgrims
6. Ise restored and Shintoized
7. Pilgrims' pleasures: Ise in early modern Japan
8. A sacred city for a modern nation
9. The nation's shrine: Taisho and Showa period Ise
10. Yearning for the past: Ise in the post war
Conclusion: Breaking open the Ise black box

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